Social Media Marketing seems to be the newest buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now actually springing up all over the place nowadays and they’re telling anyone that’ll listen about how incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your organization but, for the average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really live up to all the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients that they don’t really need an internet site because Facebook is the biggest social network on earth and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it might be true that Facebook is the biggest social network on earth and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they really buying? Social media marketing companies are all too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like how many individuals use Facebook or how many tweets were delivered a year ago and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the entire picture? smm panel I once sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who had been spruiking to anybody who came within earshot concerning the amazing advantages of setting up a Facebook business page for small company (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the investigation nut that I am, I decided to take a good look into SMM in regard to selling to see if it really worked, who made it happen work for and when it did why did Social Media Marketing work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social support systems for sales?
As a net developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would claim that having an internet site sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social support systems were the move to make, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social support systems or SMM to generate online sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium-sized business I always recommended developing a quality website over any type of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media marketing is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that could be a lot more like LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. The truth is that social media marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is a cultural network not a research engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around exactly the same, people don’t use Facebook in exactly the same way they use a se like Google (which has around half the se market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They use it to keep in touch with family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media marketing users stated that they do not engage with brands over social media marketing at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to interact with brands. Now out of all the people who do use social media marketing and who do interact with brands whether purposefully or not, almost all (66%) say they have to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well first of all I’d claim that having a well optimized website continues to be going to bring you much more business that social media marketing typically especially if you really are a small to medium-sized local business because far more individuals are going to enter “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a research engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don’t have an internet site you’re passing up on all of the potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still a good idea for business to use social media marketing not in exactly the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business all together viewed social support systems like Facebook as a new market ripe for the picking and when Facebook started getting users measured by the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% of the company (in June 2004) and since them a couple of venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to truly capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The stark reality is numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to trust that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Needless to say it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the earlier year as its revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is training for them but it is training for you? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily signify it never will.
I think the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately looking for something so when they do a seek out hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that specific time. With something similar to Facebook the principal intent is normally to get in touch with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems may be monetized in exactly the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In four years from we have now to find out what the optimum model is. But that’s not our primary focus today “.One of many biggest problems business face with social support systems and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they want from their social media marketing interactions with companies.” For example in the present society people aren’t just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for this, and so the old adage “what’s inside for me?” makes play. So the principal reason many people give for reaching brands or business on social media marketing is to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people interact with them on social media marketing is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of reasoned explanations why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.